The Noble Refrigerator, the Unsung Kitchen Hero
Today, we will explore the inner world of our favorite overlooked appliance, the refrigerator.
Image its fate.
Like a true blue companion, it sits in a constant state of readiness, waiting for the next hand to reach for the chilled ice tea.
Yet, fashionable cooking magazines seem to lavish their attentions on its more glamorous cousin, the 6 burner stove. Air flow this, and even heating that, I suppose that the unending sea of ink is a result of the art called cooking. Hump. I feel a chill coming on.
If truth be told, the refrigerator holds forth some surprises. My scientific survey of three participating households, has uncovered that the refrigerator door is the most frequently opened and closed door in any American home. Take that Mr. Big Burner.
Now that we know that the refrigerator deserves some respect. Let's get started. The following is a proposed list of items that are great to have on hand to dress up leftovers or create a spur of the moment meal. My assumption is that you enjoy American-Mediterranean cuisine and that you have some basic cooking knowledge.
Ice Cube Trays: Very handy - Get as many trays as you can reasonably fit. We have about six. Five trays of different shapes are devoted to ice. I have one tray I use for frozen herbs, or stock. It's a great short cut for seasoning winter meals when your favorite herbs are hard to find.
Frozen Veggies: Peas, Corn, mixed assortment for stir fry. This is a great short cut for a quick stir fry or to add some color to a soup, stew or quick pasta dish.
Frozen Entrèes: Buy on Sale! These make a great a fast meal after a long day. Look for the items when they are on sale, and stock up on several of your favorites. This is growing grocery category and there is a wide array of choices available, from inexpensive budget items to expensive upscale dinners.
Treats: This is the great catch all- Ice Cream- Frozen Banana- Popovers- you decide
Use Freezer Wrap: The harsh environment of the freezer delivers very dry, cool air. In order to avoid freezer burn, remember to properly package your foods in freezer wrap.
Coffee: Lots of folks store their coffee in the freezer to keep it fresh. This is common misconception. Coffee will last just as long at room temperature. The key is to store it in an air tight container.
Arm and Hammer Baking Soda: Get one and change it every 3-4 months. It will absorb those funky onion smells and help keep fresh food tasting fresh.
Classic Condiments: Good Mayonnaise, French wine mustard for vinaigrettes, Coarse grain mustard for meats and sandwiches, good quality jam, Chutney.
Really, buy only what you need. While those huge, bone crushing jars of stuff may be a great bargain, mayonnaise, chutneys and alike do get stale and go bad. Do right by your digestive track and buy the size that you can reasonably use within a month or two.
Veggie Area or Crisper: Do not store you fresh veggies on the metal shelves of the refrigerator. Use the crisper. The metal shelves will conduct too much cold and freeze the water in the vegetables. (ex: soggy celery) Also, many fresh herbs will stay fresher and last longer in a loose paper towel cover. Unlike a plastic bag the paper towel will absorb excess moisture and provide a very light insulation from the dry refrigerated air.
Dairy: Organic Eggs, both salted and unsalted butter, two good cheeses of your choice
Drinks: Milk, Juice, and your preferred soft drink or iced tea.
Other: This is the section that tells a lot about us. Do you always keep an emergency bottle of champagne on hand or pot of crème fresh? We all have our favorites. The key is to keep something on hand that will add to your enjoyment of life.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you next time.
About the Seasoner
Kathy FitzHenry is the founder of Juliet Mae Fine Spices, an artisan maker of fine spice blends and seasonings located in San Francisco. Known for her array of sophisticated, handmade products, Kathy has just begun to sell her blends nationally under the name The Occasional Gourmet. You can find her blends at select specialty stores and at all the Northern California Whole Foods Stores. For more information, please contact Kathy at 415-474-1633 or go to www.theoccasionalgourmet.com.